Full time Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
Part time Master in Education (MEd)
The full-time MPhil or part-time MEd in Mathematics Education is for anyone with a research or professional interest in mathematics education at any level of education (primary, secondary, or tertiary), wanting to undertake advanced study in a world-class setting. The Mathematics Education route is taught by a specialist team, and its student cohort is drawn primarily from UK-based professionals (most of whom continue in their full-time posts while taking the course part-time) and international students (most of whom take the course on a full-time basis).
The route aims to develop students' understanding of a number of important issues in the field of mathematics education. Students are supported to interpret and critically engage with ideas and debates in mathematics education research in three main ways: through taught sessions in mathematics education; through work on course assignments under the supervision of a member of the teaching team; and through participation in seminars led by students on the route and in project workshops. The Research Methods Strand (for both MPhil and MEd students) and the Perspectives on Education Strand (for MPhil students only) complement students' experience on the Mathematics Education route.
Taught sessions in mathematics education
In advance of sessions, students are expected to read pre-set material intended to provide a context or focus for discussion. Sessions are organised in ways that draw explicitly on important research literature in mathematics education and on students' diverse backgrounds and experiences. All students are expected to contribute to, and to learn from, the discussions and activities during the sessions.
Examples of topics covered during taught sessions in mathematics education:
- mainstream curricular topics including arithematic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics;
- mathematical activities including problem solving, modelling, proving;
- mathematics pedagogy and learning;
- teacher knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes;
- current policy issues, such as international comparisons, social justice, and use of resources in mathematics education.
Each student is assigned a supervisor and entitled to supervisions in accordance with Faculty norms. Supervisors are drawn from the mathematics education teaching team and are able to advise students on subject-specific elements of the masters course as well as offer support for preparation of course assignments and feedback on termly progress.
Student-led seminars and project workshops
Each student-led seminar is introduced by one or two students. This introductory talk is rather informal (use of PowerPoint slides is not required), lasts about 15 minutes, and is followed by discussion with the rest of the group. The choice of topic is up to the individual students. The following are examples of topics from past years that engaged the group in productive discussion:
- An account of some characteristics of the educational system (or some part thereof such as primary education or teacher education) of the student's home country or another country where the student has lived or studied, as experienced by the student-leader.
- An issue in mathematics teaching related to some experience of the student-leader, e.g., challenges in teaching graphs to a Year 8 class or in incorporating technology in primary mathematics teaching.
The project workshops offer an opportunity for students to present and get feedback on their developing ideas and ongoing work about their research projects. Prior to each workshop the route coordinator offers guidance about the expected length and format of presentations.
Research Methods strand
All the MPhil and MEd students on the Mathematics Education route are required to attend a generic Research Methods Strand, which is taught across thematic routes. Methods sessions are essential for a research-based masters degree and constitute about one-third of students' total teaching time for the degree. Through this strand students develop their understanding of different research strategies, foster skills in appraising and synthesising published research studies, and acquire the understanding and skills necessary for designing, conducting, analysing, interpreting, and reporting a small-scale research study for their thesis.
The Research Methods Strand covers a broad range of social science research methods and is essential for masters level understanding and critical engagement with the research literature in many specialist areas and in education more generally. It offers opportunities and encouragement to apply the knowledge gained to students' thematic areas, and vice versa.
Perspectives on Education Strand (MPhil students only)
In addition to the mathematics education sessions and the Research Methods Strand, the MPhil students on the Mathematics Education route are required to attend the Perspectives on Education Strand, which constitutes about one-third of their total teaching time for the masters degree. The strand, which comprises both compulsory and elective elements, locates students' thematic content within an international perspective and facilitates their awareness as to how, for example, culture, when viewed broadly, determines the nature of knowledge, curricula, assessment, and significantly, the forms and functions of education itself. As with the Research Methods Strand, it is expected that the Perspectives on Education Strand will influence students' decisions with respect to how they undertake their research.
Student testimonials about the Mathematics Education route
"The content of the MPhil was interesting and varied, and the guidance available from my supervisor and other academics in the department thoroughly enriched my experience at Cambridge. The skills I gained throughout the year prepared me well for further research not only in Mathematics Education, but also in other fields. I highly recommend the course for anyone with a background in mathematics looking to broaden their horizons."
Aurel Diamond - past MPhil student
Alison Kiddle - past MEd student
Sylvester Juwe – past MEd student
"I have developed my understanding of mathematics education research during the year. I have learned to think more critically, rigorously and paying attention in details during the research process. Also, the writing of the essays and the thesis gave me the autonomy to engage further with topics of my interest, having at the same time guidance and support from the supervisors."
Eleni Demosthenous - past MPhil student
Application process, fees, and entry requirements
Full details of the application process, fees, and entry requirements are available at Masters Application Procedure.